My favorite “feel good” prenatal exercise is the move traditionally known as “Cat-Cow.” Clearly, the person who named this exercise was NOT pregnant. Furthermore, I still can’t imagine ANY woman who would feel sexy doing a move called “Cow.” “Cat,” on the other hand I can somewhat understand- cats can be sly, sexy, & mysterious. (I’m actually not a cat person, but I get it.)
My point being: When I teach this exercise, I call it “Round & Release.” (And I encourage all of you who train or teach pregnant women to do the same.) It’s not only fabulous for anyone who wants a great back stretch, but it can also be used to work your core muscles. This is why it’s such a wonderful exercise during pregnancy. It’s a great substitute when you can no longer do sit ups.
How To: Begin on all fours with you hands aligned your shoulders and your knees with your hips. 1) Take a deep breath, exhale, and ROUND your back to the ceiling. Try to let your head & neck relax. Tuck your tailbone & pull the abs in and up as you do this. (If you’re pregnant, think of bringing your baby closer to your spine.)
2) Inhale & RELEASE. Let your back arch, your belly soften and your pelvis release (this part may feel more difficult as your pregnancy progresses, so only go to the point that feels comfortable).
I found that the further along I was in my pregnancy, the more I appreciated “Round & Release.” Not only did it become my “replacement crunch” (along with plank), but the stretch felt amazing in my shoulders & back as I became bigger & bigger in front. This exercise has also been said to be successful in moving and keeping your baby in a favorable position for birth. So if you’re looking for something to help you continue working your core during pregnancy, to provide an amazing stretch, and to hopefully keep your baby in a healthy position, Round & Release your way to labor!
Leave a comment below if you had success with this exercise during your pregnancy . . . or if you have questions or comments regarding other exercises, I’d love to hear!
Before I started this Blog (in honor of Pregnancy Awareness Month), I reached out to all of my mommy and mommy-to-be friends to find out what they would be interested in reading, learning, and talking about. I have a great list of topics to share with all of you throughout the month, many of which I thought I would have addressed by now. What I’ve realized, as a new mom, is how little time I actually have in the day to get done everything I need to get done (let alone want to get done), so my apologies for not getting new blogs out as often as I hoped. Props to all you daily Mommy Bloggers out there!
One of the most interesting topics that was thrown my way is regarding the new feelings that a second-time mommy experiences. Unfortunately, I can’t address this topic since I’m only on number one. My sister-in-law, however, was gracious enough to share her thoughts. I’m sure there are many of you out there experiencing similar emotions, as well as many of you who are already second (and third, and fourth, etc.) mommies. Please feel free to comment and share stories, thoughts, and advice with one another. My favorite thing about being a new mom is the immediate mommy community I now have! So here’s to mommies-to-be, new mommies, and mommies of many!
Many thanks to second time mommy-to-be Wendy Williams (and her son Charlie) for her contribution:
When I found out I was pregnant with my second child, I went to the bookstore to get a book on adding a second baby to the family. There are hundreds of different books on raising a child, but nothing on the shelves specifically about the second time around. I went home and looked on Amazon. There were one or two books out of print and maybe one or two ancient books that were less than inspiring.
Why was this not an issue? Wasn’t this more impactful than a first pregnancy since it directly affects your first born and changes the family dynamic you’ve just recently created? I even reached out to a publisher I had befriended earlier in the year on a different topic as to why a book like this wasn’t in the market. Her business partner was actually pregnant with her second child too and neither of them could figure it out. Guess we’re just meant to wing it.
So, was I crazy to have this trepidation of having a second baby? While there is so much excitement and I know it's good for Charlie, my two year old son, and our family to grow, there is a LOT of fear and anxiety and, most of all; guilt related the changes we are about to experience.
The guilt is mainly just not being able to focus all my attention on Charlie anymore. Experts will tell you that little ones shouldn't have that much intense oversight anyway and a sibling is really good for them. It's just a big change for us and, especially as a stay at home mom, there is a lot of "just the two of us" every day and that's our routine and current relationship structure. You naturally worry more about the one you’ve known so well for the last two years than the one you’ve yet to meet.
Keep in mind that this little girl we are expecting in six short weeks ironically has no crib, no bedroom, no real preparation and I don’t really seem to feel bad about that. With our current home on the market, we are living in a state of limbo and she will be along for the ride. We will definitely take advantage of the first few months when it will be so much easier to take her along to all of Charlie’s activities. I know a lot of people who would say it’s just the life of a second child, and now I know they’re right. This is a completely different scenario from all of the preparation we had done for Charlie’s birth. As a parent, you know what you need to do and don’t need to do the second time around to keep a child happy and healthy.
I know full well that this will be a wonderful addition for all of us, but as you're lying awake at night unable to sleep in your last trimester, you need to find something to obsess about! We have no control over any of it, but we can still obsess about keeping the ones we love happy. That's what makes us moms! But a few months from now, I won’t be able to imagine our lives without this little girl, who will no doubt shake things up for the better. For now, Charlie and I are spending our days having as much fun as possible; just the two of us.
I have been a “mover” my entire life… dancing since I was six years old, working out in the gym since I was fifteen, and teaching fitness classes since I was nineteen. When I became pregnant in June 2010, I knew things would change, and in a way, I was excited to see what it was going to be like to move in a new body. What I wasn’t prepared for was how it would make me feel, how patient I would need to be, and how much I would learn.
I remember the exact moment I knew things were different. I was about ten weeks pregnant on vacation at my in-laws lake house. I didn’t look pregnant . . . I didn’t feel pregnant . . . and I definitely wasn’t acting pregnant. I got up that morning to go for a run with my husband and sister-in-law. I knew my prenatal rules (I say “my” because these are the rules I actually believe in): 1) Work out at a moderate level by making sure you can carry on a conversation 2) Don’t get too hot. (Notice, I’m ignoring the old-school notion that you’re not supposed to let your heart rate go above 140 BPM. I’ll discuss that in another post.)
As I jogged onto the trail, I became immediately humbled. I had been running with my husband just a week before in the Hamptons - how could it be this much harder just a few days later? It was frustrating to have to swallow my pride. I had run with my hubby and sister-in-law just a few months before and had finished ahead of both of them. Now, as we all took off together, I quickly fell behind. Within five minutes, it immediately became way too hard too breath. I could feel the tears welling up. My husband fell back to make sure I was alright, and I just started bawling. I just couldn’t believe how much harder it felt than usual. “What was wrong with me?” Not quite sure what to say, my husband just reminded me that I was pregnant. Duh, right? But he was right - I needed to remind myself that I was growing a person . . . an actual person. This is why it was hard. Not because I was weak, or suddenly out of shape, but because I was not working out just for me anymore.
When people used to ask me when I was going to have children, I always said, “I don’t know. I’m too selfish right now.” Little did I know how right I really was: Being a parent, particularly a mom, is the most selfless thing you can do in life . . . from your pregnancy onward. Taking care of your body is no longer about making yourself look good… or getting the endorphin high… or working off the big dessert from the night before. It’s about creating as perfect a human being as your body will allow.
So to all my new preggers out there who love working out, here are some things I learned about working out while pregnant:
- Be patient with yourself. Being pregnant is like living with an injury for nine months. Sometimes it acts up and you have to take it easy, and sometimes you’ll feel like a rock star and you can push to a moderate level for you.
- You know your body better than anyone else. Listen to it - listen to your baby - they can tell you more than anyone else can. So when that neighbor down the street whispers to her husband when she sees you jogging down the block with your pregnant belly, turn, smile, and wave. Be proud that you are doing what’s best for you.
- (If you can) get in the best shape of your life before you get pregnant! That way you can do so much more when you are! When I was pregnant I kept thinking, “Boy, this shouldn’t be this hard, but imagine what it would have been like if I hadn’t been in good shape ahead of time!”
- It’s okay to get frustrated. Anyone who usually craves the endorphin rush, the burn in your legs, or reaching the point where you are almost breathless . . . you’re going to feel a little annoyed and discouraged, but trust me, that little creature growing inside you is worth it. Plus, don’t worry, the workout of your life is coming soon - labor is much more of an endorphin rush than any workout I’ve experienced!